Marvão, a secret refuge in Alentejo
Marvão is a lovely medieval village with Moorish origins situated in Alentejo near the border with Spain on the mountain range of São Mamede
On the highest point of the mountain range of São Mamede I have discovered Marvão, a memorable medieval village from Alentejo with Arab origins, for the first time on a distant cold winter day.
Situated near the border with Spain, Marvão charmed me immediately with its small houses of an immaculate white, aligned on sinuous cobbled streets, its imposing castle and walls, dating from the 13th and the 17th centuries. In spite of the low temperature, I wandered slowly around the village, enjoying that tranquility so typical of Alentejo, discovering its churches, specially the former Saint Mary Church that nowadays houses a Museum with interesting ethnological and archeological collections, the Manueline stone cross, the pillory and, above all, the incredible views across the Natural Park of São Mamede. The beauty of the village and the surrounding mountains granted Marvão the honor of being declared a World Heritage Site by the UNESCO in 2000.
The history of Marvão
Conquered to the Moors by Afonso Henriques during the 1160-1166 campaign, Marvao takes its name from Ibn Marwan al-Yil’liqui, honored during the Almossassa festival, a Moor warrior who founded a small reign in Badajoz and came to the village on the 9th century. However, there are evidences that this area has been inhabited since the Paleolithic and Neolithic periods. Probably due to its geographical position and difficult accesses, Marvão has been strategically important since Roman times as certified by nearby ruins of the Roman city of Ammaia.
Throughout time, Marvão witnessed several battles and was disputed many times, namely during the 1383-1385 Crisis, the Portuguese Restoration War, the War of the Spanish Succession, the Seven Years’ War, the War of the Oranges, the Peninsular Wars and the Portuguese Liberal Wars.
Luckily, those troubled times are long gone and today’s Marvão is imbued with that peaceful and welcome atmosphere of Alentejo, that turns it into a perfect destination for a relaxed stay.